Booker Prize-winning author Barry Unsworth has died at the age of 81, his publishers said today.
The Durham-born historical fiction writer died in Umbria, Italy, where he had lived for several years.
He was named joint winner of the Booker Prize - the most prestigious in British publishing - in 1992 for Sacred Hunger, about the 18th century slave trade.
His last novel The Quality Of Mercy, has been shortlisted for the Walter Scott Prize.
Jocasta Hamilton, publishing director of Hutchinson, said: "Many of us met Barry when he visited London in 2010 and were as charmed in person as we have been thrilled by his novels.
"Barry's work was characterised by a willingness to tackle big subjects with great humanity.
"His writing bought enormous pleasure as well as being thought-provoking and illuminating."
Waterstones spokesman Jon Howells said: "It was incredibly unusual for the Booker to be split and to have joint winners. It has never happened since.
"It's been a sad week with Barry Unsworth and Ray Bradbury dying - two very different writers, but two important writers with great backlists."
The 1992 prize was shared with Michael Ondaatje's English Patient.
Unsworth taught at the Universities of Athens and Istanbul in the 1960s and travelled extensively.
He was a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.